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J Org Chem. 2002 Mar 8;67(5):1657-62.

Efficient ruthenium-catalyzed aerobic oxidation of alcohols using a biomimetic coupled catalytic system.

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Department of Organic Chemistry, Arrhenius Laboratory, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm Sweden.


Efficient aerobic oxidation of alcohols was developed via a biomimetic catalytic system. The principle for this aerobic oxidation is reminiscent of biological oxidation of alcohols via the respiratory chain and involves selective electron/proton transfer. A substrate-selective catalyst (ruthenium complex 1) dehydrogenates the alcohol, and the hydrogens abstracted are transferred to an electron-rich quinone (4b). The hydroquinone thus formed is continuously reoxidized by air with the aid of an oxygen-activating Co[bond]salen type complex (6). Most alcohols are oxidized to ketones in high yield and selectivity within 1-2 h, and the catalytic system tolerates a wide range of O(2) concentrations without being deactivated. Compared to other ruthenium-catalyzed aerobic oxidations this new catalytic system has high turnover frequency (TOF).

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